A Garden With Chutzpa
Last weekend’s ANLD garden tour included a garden that really captured my interest and my heart. The garden’s husband-and-wife creators – Marina Wynton, artist/landscape and interior designer and Mike Pajunas, artist and tile/stone contractor – have made a remarkable outdoor space that integrates natives and exotics in a way that is both intelligent and fun. And definitely gutsy: it takes real chutzpa to paint your house magenta with lime-green trim, don’t you think?
The garden has just about everything I love in a garden in one place: great lounging spots, lots of sparky color, crunchy paths and patios (river rock, in this case – not gravel), site-appropriate planting and a diverse array of plants to support native insects and birds.
The day of the tour was hot. I stumbled around the garden for a while, snapped some pictures, and eventually plunked myself down in a shady chair and absorbed. When I found Marina and Mike, we chatted about the ingenious structures, the diverse collection of native plants and more. Mike, who built the new driveway, shed, fences, and pretty much every other structure and bit of hard-scaping in the place, enthusiastically showed me some of their native plant treasures including some local Willamette Valley natives. I appreciated how the native plants were layered so well (understory, mid-story and canopy) – it was nice to sit in a chair opposite it and just stare into the layers of plantings.
I loved the rich purple-blue hydrangeas against the pink house, the hot pink bee balm (Monarda), and many other punchy and colorful plantings. And several other interesting features of the garden (and there are many) were mentioned in an earlier article in Portland Monthly Magazine.
The native garden in particular captivated me. I loved how the plants fit together much as they do in nature – not only the layering of individual plants in relationship to each other but also the siting of the plants in places where they were destined to thrive (sun-loving plants in hot spots, moisture-loving plants in low-lying areas etc). It always surprises me how easy it is for avid gardeners to forget that we must take our cues on what to plant where from the environment itself – rather than choosing plants based on what we want to see in a particular spot! We all do it sometimes – and sometimes it even works – but there’s a special grace and beauty in a garden where plants are growing in proper relationship with the environment.
Their garden has earned quite a collection of wildlife, habitat and environmental certifications – testament to their commitment to land stewardship. See the slideshow to get a better sense of the many environmental features of this garden.
The garden will be open (free) three more times this year to members of the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon – one more reason to join up for a mere $35 per year.
Marina Wynton and Mike Pajunas, Garden and Interior Designer: Olivine Landscape Design